The Good News – Redevelopment Agencies Initiative Statute May be on November Ballot

By Russ Watson
Edited by Gary Wartik

In February Vision Economics posted an article that highlighted a proposed state initiative titled “The Jobs and Education Development Initiative (JEDI) Act”.  If approved this statue would essentially reauthorize the use of redevelopment powers, including a distribution of tax increment funds. The California “Jobs and Development” Initiative (#13-0065) has been approved for circulation of petitions in California, targeting consideration by the voters on the November 4, 2014 ballot as an initiated state statute. Proponents have to gather nearly 505,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Reviewing some of the posted stories regarding the proposal, many of the authors, bloggers and those who take the time to comment on articles/blogs are not supportive of the proposal, citing big government, abuse of power, stealing ‘our, your, their’ tax dollars to give to rich developers…the usual comments.  One article suggested this effort might in fact be effective in growing support in the Legislature and ultimately the Governor’s approval in enacting ‘redevelopment-lite’ legislation similar to last year’s SB 1 (Steinberg), to place the initiative on the ballot.

Identifying actually who is supporting the initiative has not provided a definitive list either.  There are a few cities that have openly expressed support, including some financial contributions.  It is likely there are many economic development advocates, affordable housing proponents and possibility many more legal and professional consulting firms supporting the initiative.

The dismantling of redevelopment agencies has proven to be … let’s say ‘complicated’.  Reactivation of former agencies will likely prove to be even more complicated than the dismantling and sell-off of former redevelopment assets and property holdings.  How does one begin to un-ring the loud bell after having been struck by the heavy hand of the Stat?  It started ringing nearly three years ago, and many cities find themselves still fighting to keep what they believe is their residents/community’s property.  The phrase “Kings X” could become a new legal term!

For now, we are in a “wait and see” period to see if proponents are successful in securing the required signatures.  Then, I guess the phrase…’let the fun begin’ may be appropriate to see if voters can be swayed to support a return of the JEDI program.  And then, if approved in November, the real challenge will be how to reactivate a de-activated public entity, restart projects and programs with limited staff, rebuild financial capacity, undo the undoing…and so on.

For our friends and colleagues in the public sector, we at Vision Economics urge you to look at the proposed JEDI referendum with the goal of generating local support for the initiative.  After all, the JEDI referendum is the key vehicle that would return to local government the ability to help fund infrastructure and other projects, including much needed workforce and senior housing, for which adequate funding is likely unavailable now.

We will attempt to keep you posted.  If you have any questions, please call Russ Watson at 916-217-5997, or Gary Wartik at 805-987-7322.

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